By Bruce Y. LeeCONTRIBUTOR
Even though songs such as “Winter Wonderland” and “Jingle Bells” can make the winter holiday season seem like a time for pervasive cheer and mirth, in actuality, holidays can bring stress, depression and anxiety, which in turn can lead to physical problems such as weight gain and Holiday Heart Syndrome. But many people may be suffering in silence. After all, we don’t have songs such as “Rudolph the Depressed Reindeer,” “Santa Claus has Overeaten Again” or “Jingle Bell Stress” to raise awareness.
Here are some common causes of holiday stress:
- “Little Drummer Boy and Girl”: Many people have to work hard with looming year-end deadlines and potentially increased business, especially if sales are tied to the holiday season in any way (such as for retail stores, restaurants, health clinics and candy cane manufacturing). More work can mean less sleep, less exercise and less healthy habits, which can exacerbate stress. Also, gift shopping and holiday planning for friends and co-workers can feel like another job.
- “Sleigh Ride (will be delayed indefinitely due to unforeseen circumstances and we will be charging extra for checking in luggage and wearing pants)”:Holiday travel can be unpleasant with the increasingly crowded conditions and expenses.
- “All I Want for Christmas Is Some Cash”: With all the gift giving, parties and travel, the holidays can really stretch your budget, heightening any financial concerns.
- “Santa Claus is Coming to Town and So Are Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Grandma, Your Cousins, Your In-Laws, Your Aunt, Your Uncle, Your Daughter and Her New Boyfriend, and Your Son and Several Strange Friends”: The holidays can bring together people and accompanying drama.
- “Let It Snow! Let It Snow!…Stop Snowing, Already!”: Inclement weather, cold temperatures and less daylight can trigger seasonal affective disorder, depression and road rage (from worse driving conditions), as well as limit activities that would help relieve stress (such as sports and walking outside).
- “Last Christmas”: The holidays can remind you of painful memories such as break-ups, divorces and deaths, especially when you see people experiencing the opposite (for example, seemingly happy couples).
- “Frosting the Snowman”: Food and beverages, including lots of unhealthy ones with lots of fat, salt and sugar, are everywhere, which can lead to overeating, weight gain, heartburn, remorse, regret and then more eating and drinking.
- “I Saw Mommy, Daddy and Everyone Else Kissing Santa Claus”: When people are stressed, lonely, depressed or drunk, they can do unusual and unpredictable things, which in turn can cause more stress (especially if that person is another family member, your significant other, your boss, your employee or you).
- “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…this Holiday Sale That You Can’t Miss and Don’t Forget That Diamonds Show That You Really Care”: The holidays pummel you with advertising convincing you of what don’t have and need to buy.
- “Do You Hear What I Hear?”: During the holidays, many others may seem happy and cheerful, which may make your situation seem less favorable by comparison.
- “Silent Night”: Unfortunately, not everyone has loved ones or a social circle with whom to spend the holidays.